I know I said no more blogging, but some things are out of my control. Tim Goeglein must have a lot of spare time on his hands there in the rapidly delaminating Bush White House, because he’s a machine lately. A machine, I tell you.
OK, a really boring machine:
What makes for a good life? What is the measure of true greatness in the human life? Can it be measured or weighed? What is the purpose of it all, of the life well-lived?
Tell us, Rev. Tim.
The Westminster Confession of Faith famously concludes that the purpose of a life well-lived is “to know God and love him forever.” This is in congress with the traditional values of filial piety and family responsibility as the cornerstones of a successful life.
And the eyes in the pews glaze over. What did Mom put in the crockpot before we left for church? Oh, right. Pot roast.
I remember reading Plato’s “Republic” for the first time at Indiana University in Bloomington. The whole aim of the book is to show that justice and the virtues of wisdom, courage and moderation are in everyone’s best interest and are required for true happiness.
Moderation! Ha! Funny. Most of the artists Tim likes to occasionally rhapsodize over lived highly immoderate lives. But I guess no one ever said they were “truly” happy, either.
This search begins anew, I suppose, with each person who comes to ask himself the fundamental questions of human existence: Who are we? Why are we here? What separates man from the animals? Is man a slave to his desires? What is the soul? What is the function of human reason and the ability to think? Do we have a higher nature that can rise above greed and lust? Does might make right? Do we have a higher purpose than self-gratification? Should we ever return harm with harm? What is a moral principle? Does moral law precede civil law, and if so, every time?
I remind you: This guy works for Karl Rove. Asking himself if moral law precedes civil law. Only when there’s a presidential signing statement.
The wonderful thing about questions like these is that they are really problems, at least at one remove, that are not solved. Rather they must be lived with each decision made. So while there are new and improved aorta valves that can be surgically implanted, there is not a new and improved program that can be downloaded on a person’s hard drive that will solve the problems he will face in life.
Tim cooks with the Genius Sauce, at least where his metaphors are concerned.
OK, I’m going to spare you most of the rest. Shorter verson: Blah blah blah “philosopher Aristotle,” blah blah blah Michael Jordan and Jack Nicklaus, blah blah blah Clara Barton blah Abraham Lincoln, blah blah George Orwell. Wait, Orwell?
In George Orwell’s novel 1984, the protagonists in the totalitarian society employed “newspeak,” the inversion of words to create false meaning. “War is peace,” “good is bad,” “moral is immoral” are merely a few of the possible inversions.
Wrong. Newspeak wasn’t the inversion of words to create false meaning. The goal of Orwell’s Newspeak was to remove all shades of meaning from words, to enforce a brutal simplicity that would discourage the consideration of nuance. Good, ungood, doubleplusungood. For a guy who serves a social movement that has virtually outlawed the color gray (except when it comes to torture), this takes some real cojones. Wait, Orwell advised against euphemism. So let’s just say it: Brass balls. Family good, homos bad!
Let’s pause for a minute and consider how much Orwell would have hated the following phrase —
While Orwell passed this mortal coil years ago,
— and skip ahead. More name-dropping (Wordsworth, John Buchan*, Theodore Roosevelt, God), blah blah blah. More rhetorical questions (Or rather is it Providence who enters into time, raising up great men and women as instruments in his hand?). And then, praise Jesus, we come to the end:
Seeking and living a good life matters profoundly. Greatness abounds.
Guess what the headline on the piece was?
Seeking and living a good life matters profoundly.
Well, you really can’t blame an editor for giving up sometimes.
* Did you know Buchan’s title was “The Rt Hon. The Lord Tweedsmuir?” I didn’t. I think we should start calling Tim that.